Back in the day – and I mean way back, ooh, two decades ago – Time Outruled London. You got your copy on Thursday and planned the weekend and the following week.
It was a great bid doorstop of a magazine, packed full of listings details in dense san serif and, like a lot of indispensable magazines, much of it went unread – the listings that were indispensable to me might be irrelevant to you and vice versa. And it kept getting bigger, adding more and more categories and more and more detail. When City Limits attempted to take it on in the early 1980s they eventually found themselves steamrollered into history by the sheer usefulness of Time Out; it had (it seemed) all of London’s events crammed between its covers.
For over a decade that’s how things stood. If you wanted to do anything, or go anywhere in London, you needed Time Out to help you plan it. And for over a decade Time Out had London to itself. Newspaper supplements came and went, the odd freebie had a crack at stealing some market share, but none of them came close to denting Time Out’s monopoly.
And it all came down to the listings.
But then came the internet and the availability of all sorts of information for free. Want to know what’s on at the pictures? Click, click, click – there it is and, what’s more another couple of clicks will book you the tickets, find out the nearest pub and tell you what bus to catch. Time Out stopped being indispensable. And then came smartphones, and Time Outsuddenly became an anachronism.
So now it’s relaunched, for free, available at a tube station near you. 80 odd pages of features, reviews and recommendations.
But no listings.
So it’s not really Time Out any more, just another freebie to glance at on the commute. One more little shared experience evaporates.